First manufactured in 1988 by Serono laboratories, recombinant gonadotropins are synthetic hormones that can stimulate egg production in women for use in fertility treatments. Recombinant gonadotropins are artificially created using recombinant DNA technology, a technology that joins together DNA from different organisms. In vertebrates, naturally-occurring gonadotropins regulate the growth and function of the gonads, known as testes in males and ovaries in females. Medical professionals can derive female gonadotropins from the urine of pregnant and post-menopausal women, often using it to facilitate in vitro fertilization, or IVF. With the rapid development of assisted reproductive technologies like IVF, demand for human-derived gonadotropins rose to a global yearly demand of 120 million liters of urine by the beginning of the twenty-first century, which resulted in a demand that could not be met by traditional technologies at that time. Therefore, researchers created recombinant gonadotropins to establish a safer and more consistent method of human gonadotropin collection that met the high demand for its use in fertility treatments.

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.