Faced with opposition from the Bush administration, embryonic stem cell research remains hamstrung in this country even as advances are made elsewhere in the world. Even in California, efforts to coordinate a major stem cell research initiative have been slow to get off the ground--bonds have not yet been issued, and the group set to oversee the grant-awarding process is so underfunded and understaffed the that University of California system (which stands to be a major beneficiary of stem cell funding) has been lending resources and personnel to it.

Now, in an effort to get the program staffed up, a local entrepreneur has given the stem-cell program a $5 million gift. The donation by Ray Dolby, the founder of Dolby Laboratories and a familiar name to most moviegoers, is set to be announced today, the San Francisco Chronicle reports .

My initial reaction is: yet again, the private sector has to rescue a promising idea from being sqaundered by the government's bureacracy. But then I wonder, do you think it would have been better in the long run for Dolby to give that $5 million to an entrepreneur to start a business focused on stem cells? Or is it better to work with the government because, even today, no business has the scale and authority to match those of the public sector?