Audrey Heimler and colleagues founded the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) in 1979 in New Hyde Park in New York, New York. Her stated goals were to establish the field of genetic counseling within biomedicine and to coordinate counselors’ voices, so that physicians and others in the medical industry would not dictate the future of the field. Genetic counselors inform patients about the potential for inherited diseases passed on through family lineages and help to navigate the options available. NSGC helped establish the field of genetic counseling by formulating guidelines for accreditation in university programs, establishing curriculum for continuing education of members, and creating committees to respond to issues that pertain to genetic disorders and the way they are presented to patients. As scientists continue to research the human genome, particularly in the area of prenatal genetics, an area of medicine that allows physicians to diagnose the health of the fetus prior to birth, genetic counseling is an established field in reproductive medicine.

In February 1975, leading biology researchers and lawyers participated in what became known as the Asilomar Conference, a meeting to discuss and recommend policy regarding novel recombinant DNA, or rDNA, technology. rDNA is DNA that scientists create in a lab by combining genetic material from two distinct sources. A group of researchers, including Paul Berg, Maxine F. Singer, and David Baltimore, organized the Asilomar Conference, which was held at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California. The purpose was to discuss how to manage the risk of researchers unintentionally creating harmful or deadly pathogens through rDNA research. The conference resulted in the creation of the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules in 1976, which outlines biosafety guidelines for researchers working with rDNA. The Asilomar Conference was one of the first instances when scientists gathered independently to discuss and establish precautionary guidelines for research using rDNA, a technology with the potential for wide-reaching applications for medicine, biology, and reproduction.