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DC Spa Confirms Controversial CEO Aaron Traywick Died on Its Premises

Soulex Float Spa called police after it found the head of the startup Ascendance Biomedical unconscious.
Photo via Aaron Traywick/Facebook.

Aaron Traywick, the CEO of a biomedical startup who injected himself with a self-developed herpes therapy in front of a live audience in February, was found dead at Soulex Float Spa in downtown DC on Sunday. “I can confirm that it did happen on our premises,” Soulex manager Dariush Vaziri tells Washingtonian

Traywick was 28. A police report obtained by Washingtonian states authorities responded to the spa, which offers flotation tanks, after a 911 call that said he’d been found unconscious. He was pronounced dead at 11:31 AM on Sunday. The DC police department is conducting an investigation but says in a statement that it does not suspect foul play.

Traywick founded Ascendance Biomedical, a medical drug company that seeks to sidestep the FDA and make “cutting edge biomedical technologies available for everyone,” according to its website. These technologies include gene therapy for HIV and AIDs, which Traywick’s colleague, Tristan Roberts, live-streamed injecting himself with in an attempt to cure his own HIV.

Traywick had no medical background. He graduated from the University of Montevallo in Alabama with a degree in interdisciplinary studies. Per Traywick’s Linkedin page, Ascendance Biomedical is headquartered in the DC area.

“Floating” involves lying on your back in a tank filled with 10 to 12 inches of water and around 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt, which increases the water’s density, so you literally float. According to Soulex’s website, the 60-minute sessions are supposed to be good for stress relief. Vaziri’s wife and the spa owner, Pedramin, told the Washington Post in January that floating is “the way you feel before you sleep and you are aware of your surroundings and sort of conscious. That is the most relaxed state.”

Police say Traywick’s body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy. A report has yet to be released.

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Kim Olsen
Associate Editor

Kim Olsen joined Washingtonian in 2016 after moving to DC from Pittsburgh, where she earned an MFA in nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Alexandria.