Is the term "test panel" only applicable to the diagnostic process? Could it be used to describe a series of tests not intended to diagnose a disorder?

Perform a panel of tests in a relevant animal model in order to determine the toxicity of the biosimilar drug product.

Would this look okay, or is it better to use "series of tests"?

Just making sure. I read the article in Wikipedia and it seems that the use of the phrase is limited to diagnostic contexts.

  • Looks fine to me. Meanwhile, I would not say "test panel" and "a panel of tests" are necessarily the same thing. As you have written it, "a panel of tests", is much clearer for what you mean here. Jan 19, 2017 at 9:45
  • FWIW, I think a "panel" of test is closer to a group of tests than a series of tests. Jan 26, 2017 at 21:09

3 Answers 3


As @mstorkson explains well, the term "test panel" is not limited to tests for diagnosing medical conditions.

In the medical field, "test panel" usually does imply a standard set of tests, such as a panel of routine liver function tests.

I think it's important to be aware, however, that "test panel" or "panel of tests" does not necessarily have to include a set package of specific tests, such as might be commercially marketed in a kit. The tests merely need to be a group of tests that would be reasonable to choose in performing the kind of evaluation in question, whether in a medical clinic, a university laboratory, an industrial engineering unit, etc. A doctor could order a complete blood count that is performed using equipment from one company, along with a liver function panel produced with a blood chemistries kit from a second company, and a renal function panel from a kit produced by a third company. Together, these tests could collectively be considered a "panel of tests."

For example, a physican evaluating a patient with unusual symptoms that raise the possibility of even a previously unrecognized disease might run a "panel of tests" to look for additional clues in the hope of narrowing down the diagnostic possibilities (or, if it might turn out that the patient has a "new" disease, to provide a fuller picture of how a patient with such a condition might present).

Second, a "panel of tests" are usually performed concomitantly or in short succession. The term "series of tests" suggests that at least one test was conducted before others in the series; and in contrast to "panel of tests," a "series of tests" does not necessarily imply anything about how long it took for the tests to be conducted--a "series of tests" could conceivably take years to complete.

Third, each of the individual members of a "test panel" or "panel of tests" will differ from the other members of the panel. In a "series of tests," the individual tests could all be different (as with a "panel of tests")--this is usually the case; but it is also possible that they could all be the same kind of test performed several times.

Finally, note that as others have pointed out, "test panel" is not necessarily the same as "panel of tests." Unlike a "panel of tests," a "test panel" could refer to a group of individuals participating in a study of some sort, such as in volunteers participating in a private screening of a film that the producers have not yet released for viewing by the general public, or individuals sitting in as "jurors" in a mock trial, or in volunteers helping test a consumer product being evaluated by a manufacturer before the product is marketed.

Clairol needs a test panel of men who want to return the gray hair to its natural color gradually.

^ advertisement from 1966

Getting back to the original question:

Perform a panel of tests in a relevant animal model in order to determine the toxicity of the biosimilar drug product.


Perform a series of tests in a relevant animal model in order to determine the toxicity of the biosimilar drug product.

either one would be fine. "Panel of tests" implies that there is a standard group of tests from which to choose for determining toxicity, and it implies that the tests would be conducted concomitantly or in short succession, while "series of tests" does not necessarily imply either. These differences are very subtle.


A "panel of tests" is, I think, fairly recent jargon to describe a related series of lab tests. Since it's fairly new you can consider it an evolving phrase that can mean whatever you wish, as long as that makes sense in the context of the common meaning.

As Teacher KSHuang mentions, a "test panel" might mean something different, so "panel of tests" is more clear.

Anyway, if you're wrong, your colleagues will probably let you know.

  • 1
    Alas, it's me who is a proofreader and reviewer. I probably have spent too much time on ELL SE. (0: So I'll not use red ink on a person's "panel of tests" Jan 19, 2017 at 19:46
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    In that case the question is, I think, whether or not it makes sense in that context, and "feels right" based on your familiarity with similar writing.
    – Andrew
    Jan 19, 2017 at 19:52

In my experience "test panel" almost always refers to an encapsulated detection effort. This does not necessarily have to refer to a disease, but any defined quantity you want to examine a sample for.

Here's a perfect example very similar to yours:


This is a commercially available panel for testing drug toxicity. They become a "panel" when they are packaged as a repeatable set of experiments that are designed to be done in service of that goal. Since that is usually a commercial effort, (e.g. designing an STD test panel), it is almost always related to disease, as that's where the money is.

This panel: http://www.ebioscience.com/rat-kidney-toxicity-panel-1-5-plex-procartaplex-multiplex-kit.htm

even comes with a warning!

For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.

If Affymetrix and Thermofisher are using those terms that way, its pretty damn close to an industry standard.

I think the differential between "panel of tests" and "series of tests", is going to be in what the paper is talking about. Did they do 10 tests on one sample in the narrow scope of one experiment, tests they might not do again once they move on to another project?

Or did they design a repeatable group of experiments that they will use to determine toxicity of all biosimilar drug products they encounter?

If its the former, I'd go with "series", the latter, I'd go with "panel". I don't think a several tests in a row makes a panel unless they are designed or packaged as a unit.

For example, in my lab days I might have done an OD on a sample, and then a Nanodrop QC, then a pH reading. But I would never have qualified those three tests as a "panel", as each required separate equipment, had different reasons for being done, and doing one would not necessarily imply I did the others.

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