Chan was born in Hong Kong in 1959. When he was 16 he moved to Canada to attend university. He received a degree in anthropology. While working to have his research published, he began to perceive problems with academic publishing and began exploring options to fix them.
In 1993 Chan founded Bioline International. Bioline International is a not-for-profit scholarly publishing cooperative which seeks to share open access journals published in developing countries. Chan believes that developing countries need access to journals.
- Poynder, Richard (June 20, 2008). "Open and Shut?: The Open Access Interviews: Leslie Chan". poynder.blogspot.com. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- "In defence of Open Access systems - The Hindu". thehindu.com. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- Masum, Hassan (4 October 2012). "Insider Views of Collaborative R&D for Health: Q&A with Leslie Chan - Center for Global Health R&D Policy Assessment". healthresearchpolicy.org. Results for Development Institute. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- Chan, Leslie; Kirsop, Barbara; Arunachalam, Subbiah (17 January 2011). "Withdrawal of journal access is a wake-up call for researchers in the developing world | Speaking of Medicine". blogs.plos.org. Retrieved 25 June 2013.