Dr. Simon Tsung worked for Project: Genesis, a project run by International Operations for national defense. While there he discovered the Gen-factor, an unusual compound in the body of Ethan McCain, a reincarnation of the extra-dimensional, Sigma. Tsung left I.O. when he discovered it's leader Miles Craven had his own motive and wanted to use the Gen-Factor for military applications. Tsung's work was continued by his assistant Gabriel Newman where the Gen-Factor went through many stages of limited success and many failures, before being perfected. The Gen-Factor was successfully integrated into humans with it's 12th Generation and the Elite Operations Team, Team 7.
DC New 52
Gen-Factor has been mentioned by Mr Cyer. It was used by Lynch on Team 7. Because Slade underwent the chemical experiment, his Gen-Factor was passed down genetically to his children. It is assumed that known if individuals like Caitlin Fairchild and others received her powers from the Gen-Factor unlike Grunge who was the experiments of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Grifter also recieved his powers from a Daemonite ship and government experiments (that may have included Gen-Factor).
The powers that each Gen-Active receives, seems to be random. After exposure to the Gen Factor most of the Team 7 began to display strong telepathic and telekinetic powers as well as some healing factor. Their children however have displayed very different and unique abilities.
The telepathic link to each other is usually very weak, even unnoticeable to most. The link however is stronger between relatives and can sometimes feel when they are in extreme pain. The link also allows sensitive Gen-Actives to notice the presence of other Gen-Actives. The link is also seen making the sum of their powers greater when they are near each other.
Gen 1 - Gen 11
Project Genesis and the discovery of the Gen-Factor from Sigma. Animal Trials and first Human Trials. The human trials all resulted in failure. This group of experiments is thought to be the creation of Kindred.
After the Gen-Factor was successfully integrated into Human test subjects. Miles Craven contacted Kaizen Gamorra and had him create a synthesized version of the Gen-Factor. He assigned Ivana Baiul one of his I.O. scientists to create an activator and booster drugs that would activate and enhance the powers of those who had the Gen-Factor, turning them Gen-Active. After the success of Team 7, other experiments were conducted. The successful Team 7 and the other successful experiments were all labelled as Gen 12. Due to his greed Kaizen also started selling his synthesized Gen-Factor to the highest bidders, resulting in Gen-Active humans worldwide. Unfortunately many of them were highly unstable and none were as powerful as the original Team 7.
Project: Genesis was restarted 15-20 years later with the children of the original Gen 12 experiments. Craven hoped that the younger subjects would be easier to control, and because they were born with the Gen-Factor their powers would be more stable. Other children exposed to the Gen-Factor were recruited as well. All of the test subjects were labelled as Gen 13, but only a small group of Gen-Actives lead by John Lynch of Team 7 used it. Another group of Deviants took the name DV8 (or Deviate). After the supposed death of the original Gen 13 tean, a second group took their name.
Other Gen-Active teenagers that received their powers either by their birth parents or due to I.O. experiments.
New 52 Known Gen Actives