Translating the knowledge from biomedical science into clinical applications that help patients has been compared to crossing a valley of death because of the many issues that separate the bench from the bedside and threaten to stall progress. But translation is also inhibited by a science policy environment with its own impediments. Mapping these policy impediments give a more complete picture of the valley of death. Stem cell science is one example where success in moving from the bench to the bedside has confronted policy challenges generating difficulties as challenging as those facing scientists and clinicians. We highlight some of the characteristics and challenges of the science policy valley of death common to the U.S. and Europe, illustrate them with a recent example from stem cell science, and describe some promising strategies for traversing the valley.