A controversial biotech engineer was found dead Sunday in a sensory deprivation tank at a spa in downtown Washington.
D.C. police said the body of Aaron Traywick, 28, who ran a company called Ascendance Biomedical, was found by staff in an isolation pod at Soulex Float Spa in the 1000 block of Massachusetts Avenue NW, near Mount Vernon Square.
A spokeswoman for the police department, Rachel Schaerr Reid, said the cause of death is pending an autopsy but “at this point, we don’t have any evidence to suggest foul play.”
The flotation company’s website says the pods are a “scientifically proven, time efficient method to unwind and bring regeneration to the daily grind.”
The spa did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
Traywick was known as a bio-hacker, a genetic engineer or scientist who works outside the mainstream ethical and institutional guidelines established by private corporations, universities and the Food and Drug Administration. He once gained attention when he injected himself with what he called a genetically designed herpes treatment while on Facebook Live at a conference in Austin.
Ascendance Biomedical was established in Delaware but has no contact information listed on its website. Traywick worked with several people scattered around the country. According to the company website, he was recruiting volunteers to participate in gene therapy studies for HIV and AIDS “elimination and immunization” and a way to preserve and augment bone density.
David Ishe, 32, worked with Traywick until the two split recently. Citing the self-injection in Austin, Ishe said Traywick “wanted to go at a very fast pace with a lot of this stuff and sometimes that got him in trouble.”
Ishe said Traywick had the motivation to succeed, and was driven by ideology that would not let him stop testing boundaries. But he said, “In the real practical sense, I don’t know if the goals he wanted to achieve were ever going to happen.”
Traywick’s relatives in Alabama could not be reached for comment.
Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this article